2016 was a great clarifier for the Right.
First, Donald Trump separated those who genuinely care about the problems facing the West from the movement hacks who would rather impotently opine about “the Constitution” and “my principles” while their civilization crumbles around them.
But over the past week, while Twitter intensified its alt-right purges, violent communist demonstrators attempted to shut down the National Policy Institute’s annual conference, and the left chose Richard Spencer for its newest Two Minutes Hate, another distinction became clear. The battle for free speech is fast becoming one of the most important battles of our time. And once again, events are separating those who actually understand the problem in its real, concrete form from those who focus on dogmas, platitudes, and fantasy worlds.
Speaking of the latter: Many of us first came to the alt-right through the libertarian movement, especially as influenced by Ron Paul, Ludwig von Mises, and Murray Rothbard. This tradition thinks of free speech only as property rights, defined by the non-aggression principle. According to them, I should be free to say whatever I want on my own property, so long as everyone else is free to do the same. If no one infringes on anyone else’s property rights, then no problem arises. Though my SWPL neighbors would drive me out of their homes if I brought up racial IQ differences over dinner, they can operate their property however they want, so my speech rights are not technically violated.
As a former libertarian myself, I can’t dispute the logic of this argument. And yet, it is completely inapplicable to the actual free speech battleground that exists today. Though legal protections for the freedom of speech are as wide as they have ever been, it has also never been more dangerous for a dissenter to speak his mind—eloquently demonstrated by the fact that people can face severe repercussions if they mention that they voted for the President-elect of the United States.
None of our modern speech-policing occurred through infringing anyone’s property rights. Instead, it came about in a new spin on the old Marxist view of property owners exploiting the propertyless. The only difference is that now the capitalists use their immense fortunes to silence the Right and to empower the Left.
The concerted attacks on Richard Spencer and anyone who dared attend his conference this past weekend are just as brutal and dishonest as anything ever leveled against Donald Trump. Only this time it is done against people without Trump’s resources and media savvy. Richard is smart and will likely weather the attacks. But what about a college kid who gets doxxed for attending his speech? In a libertarian world, CNN has every right to drag him through the mud and render him forever unemployable.
The same principle plays out countless times elsewhere. We see Twitter censor right-wing accounts, while Google and Facebook prepare to change their algorithms to make it harder to find the so-called “fake news” sites that they fear benefitted Trump. (At least one left-wing professor believes the “fake news” list should include Breitbart, the Drudge Report, and LewRockwell.com. We can be sure that many others share her sentiment.) On the flipside, Google can also ensure that a record of association with so-called “white nationalists” will remain the top search hit under anyone’s name who might rather it didn’t.
The threat of losing a job or becoming permanently blacklisted as a “racist” is the biggest roadblock to genuine free expression and prevents the corporate employee class from voicing opposition to egalitarian orthodoxy just as effectively as the old Soviet commissars ever could. Moreover, the “speech codes” that do exist today are imposed by private colleges and corporate HR departments, all of which are, in libertarian terms, just setting the rules for their own property in accord with the NAP. After all, as the Rothbardians never tire of saying, “no one forces you to work there.”
We can expect that the free speech battles of the twenty-first century will therefore barely involve the state at all. Instead, it will be a battle pitting free-thinking but scattered individuals of relatively modest means against well-funded private corporations, academic institutions, social media empires, and search engines.
In the worst case, the state may give some subsidies to the colleges and corporations that oppose us, making it marginally easier for them to employ the types of censorship they would have employed even in the absence of government funding. More likely, though, the state will simply step aside and let us fight amongst ourselves. Though libertarians live for fine, hairsplitting distinctions, the actual censors do not care exactly who is doing the censoring so long as the targeted views get silenced. If censorship can be outsourced to the private sector, then, from a lazy bureaucrat’s perspective, that’s just one thing less to worry about.
Then again, in the best case, the state may actually be our friend. The Trump administration would likely prefer us to the puritanical scolds who used the same social shaming and economic boycott tactics to push him into conforming with the leftist hive. And even the administrations that follow Trump will still have the First Amendment to contend with. This, combined with the fact that the state gets its tax money regardless of what the taxpayers think of it, means that it will be generally immune to economic pressure in ways a private business would not. When NPI came to Washington, the private Hamilton restaurant immediately canceled a dinner contract when antifa turned up the pressure. But the federal Ronald Reagan Building, constrained by the First Amendment and immune from market pressure, kept its bargain and allowed the conference to stay.
In the face of these new threats, the idea that Twitter or Google can do whatever it wants because it is a private company is increasingly meaningless. Sure, the idea accords with traditional notions of property rights. But who cares? If libertarian property rights empower the people who seek to destroy western White civilization by flooding it with alien cultures, while the dwindling remnants of the West dissipate their last hours with Snapchat, Porn Hub, and dildos, then why bother defending it?
The Right must fight the battles that actually exist. In 2016, everyone attacking free speech does so for the exclusive benefit of the Left. They want to silence us because they understand that if people are free to speak their minds, the Left will be exposed for the pretentious charlatans that they are. So if we want to save the West, we must first break down the barriers that make even discussing our goals prohibitively dangerous.
As we do so, we must remember that this battle has nothing to do with legalistic niceties like property rights or the NAP. Rather, it is a proxy fight in the most important issue of our time: whether the people who, as inventors of electricity, literally gave the world light, will survive. The Left understands this, which is why they fight so hard. So does the alt-right, which happily responds to Twitter purges with the full realization that leftist censorship is always evil and wrong, regardless of the process through which it is imposed.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Right—the libertarians, cuckservatives, paleocons, mainstreamers, and party loyalists—will have to choose. They can join us in the fight against left-wing thought control and help create a more livable society for themselves and their families. If they do, we should forgive them their past mistakes.
Or they can decide to cling to old dogmas that disempower them for the benefit of their enemies. In so doing, irrelevance is their only hope. If they help our enemies win, they will only end up as junior partners to a left-wing monolith—propped up by Third World immigrants—that will never leave them alone and will never stop hating them. On the other hand, if, God willing, the Right can take our country back from the managerial class who have ruined things for so long, then they will join their intellectual peers Jeb Bush, Glenn Beck, and Evan McMullin in the trash heap of pompous cowards irrelevant to the events transpiring around them. In other words: the moral equivalents of a man who debated metaphysics while his family died in a house fire.